Nonis: There’s been talk of making Jake Gardiner a forward

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Jake Gardiner, a talented defenseman but polarizing at times for the Toronto Maple Leafs, sure endured his share of struggles last season. He was a healthy scratch and had to deal with almost constant trade speculation.

And his training camp didn’t leave a favorable impression of head coach Randy Carlyle, so nothing like slumping into the doghouse before the season even gets underway.

And here’s something: According to a conversation between Toronto’s general manager Dave Nonis and Toronto Sun reporter Steve Buffery, there was talk of converting Gardiner to forward.

“He was a forward, he started as a forward. He played more of his formative years as a forward,” said Nonis.

“There’s been some talk of it, but I think he gives us an element at the back end that would be hard to replace. He can skate the puck out, pretty good on the power play. So I think right now, we would keep him back there, but …”